Getting to the Heart of the Matter

Updated: Feb 4, 2019

Pro-Active Women Take Charge in Their Health!

Carly Cardio is a 55 year old women busy running her business, loving her husband / partner, and watching her children grow. For most of Carly’s life she has been super healthy but since reaching menopause, her body has changed so much and no matter what she does, her blood pressure seems to be creeping up, her cholesterol is inching in the wrong direction, and her waist line isn’t looking the same. Every woman, and even men, go through a major milestone in life where the body starts to “decline.” Essentially your hormones dramatically drop, like a rock falling off a cliff, and causes a series of unfortunate events to happen biochemically. In fact, men have the highest prevalence of high blood pressure UNTIL women pass the age of 55, when estrogen starts to take the fall. Due to this drop in hormones, it does start to take away the protective checks and balances we had before. Basically, a drop in estrogen, progesterone, and even testosterone cause your blood pressure, lipids, and weight to go up and your glucose tolerance to go down. WHAT THA’ HECK?! That seems kind of hopeless, right?

The good news is that we know this will happen and while you might have to take extra measures to take care of yourself, there is hope in knowing there are things you can do! Keep learning, keep working to better yourself, and everyday do something to take care of your heart.


R: Resveratrol

This is a nutrient that gets produced in stressed out plants but is naturally high in an herb called, Knotweed. It acts as a potent anti-oxidant and is protective against numerous cardiovascular disease. When taken in an adult who does moderate exercise, there is a synergistic effect; meaning, the benefits of Resveratrol actually magnifies or enhances the benefits of exercise as it relates to the cardiovascular system


E: Endothelium: the layer of cells found around your heart and blood vessels. Think of your blood vessels like a tube and when you have high blood pressure, we want to make that tube wider to improve blood flow. Your endothelium is like the linning of that tube. L-Arginine is an amino acid that helps to relax and dilate the tube, or your blood vessels, to improve blood flow and thereby lower blood pressure.


D: D- Ribose

Because the heart is a pump, it requires a lot of continuous energy. D-Ribose improves heart cell function by feeding the mitochondria, the power house of every cell.


H: Hormone Therapy

Phyto-estrogens or Bio-Identical Hormones. These two recommendations have the potential to take a whole month of blogging and then some so I will be very brief. “Phyto” means that it comes from a plant and plants that are classified as “phyto-estrogens” contain steroidal molecules that the body will use to make “human” estrogen. Bio-Identical hormones are basically steroidal molecules from these plants given in higher dosages instead of just taken the herb itself. Both forms of herbal therapy can be very beneficial in protecting the cardiovascular system, they are safer to use than synthetic forms of estrogen, and are highly indicated in treatment plans for the aging women.


E: EXERCISE!

Moving your muscles improves your circulation and respiration. Oxygen is delivered in the lungs and the heart pumps this oxygen rich blood everywhere in our body. The oxygen is directly involved in the production of cell energy and the cycle continues. There are numerous benefits to why exercise is so important for the heart, but it directly improves our oxygen levels, lowers the bad cholesterol, improves our stress, and overall well being. Get out there and move your body!


A: Arjuna- Terminalia arjuna

-Arjuna is an Ayruvedic herb that is one of the most accepted medicinal plants in many cultures. It’s a potent antioxidant that provides protection to the cardio-vascular system. It helps to lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and inflammation. Ayush Herbs is one of my favorite Ayurvedic herbal companies and this is herb it best taken in capsule form. Don’t exceed 1-2 grams a day but it is well tolerated and is generally safe to use. Caution with blood thinning medications, diabetes, pregnancy, and breast feeding.


R: Rest

Stress is a silent killer but so is insomnia, a common complaint in the aging women due to the drop in hormones. If you are having trouble with this and melatonin or Valerian root aren’t helping, consider your hormones or stress levels as a contributing factor. Progesterone has a synergistic relationship with melatonin while cortisol, our stress hormone, competes with it.


T: Testing

More thorough and specific testing should be consider when monitoring your risk of cardiovascular disease, especially in an aging population, but also in monitoring treatment progress. Carotid Intima-Media Thickness Ultrasounds are useful in determining atherosclerotic disease. Inflammatory markers in blood test can monitor any issues specific in the cardiovascular system. Digging deeper into cholesterol profiles by breaking down your lipids into particle sizes and taking into consideration someones’ genetics are all valuable tools in determining how aggressive you need to be in your treatments and prevention in CVD. Oh and by the way- you won’t get any of these test with your standard annual screens.


Each of these recommendations are not a stand alone treatment but are there to show you that there’s always something you can do to be proactive in your health besides submitting to a pharmaceutical and calling it a day.


Be a proactive aging adult and your heart will love you for it!


Dr. Lexi


Resources:

J. Midlife Health. 2019 Jan-Jun; 1 (1): 26-29. Prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors in postmenopausal women. A rural study. Vishal r. Tandon. Annil Mahajan. Sudhaa Sharma. Anil Sharma

PMC.NCBI doi: 10.4103/0976-7800.66993

Molecules. 2014 Sep; 19 (9): 14919-14947. Experimental Studies of the Molecular Pathways Regulated by Exercise and Resveratril in Heart, Skeletal Muscle and the Vasculature. Vernon W. Dolinsky. Jason R. B. Dyck.

NCBI. Doi: 10.3390/molecules190914919.

Mini Rev Med Chem. PMC 2013 Feb 1l 12(2): 149-174. OMCID: PMC3288319 Vascular Effects of Phytoestrogens and Alternative Menopausal Hormone Therapy in Cardiovascular Disease. Vahide B. Gencel, Minda M. Benjamin, Shafik N. Bahou, Raouf A. Khalil.

J Tradit Complement Med. 2017 Jan; 7 (1): 65-78. Medicinal properties of Terminalia arjuna (Roxb.) Wight & Arn: A Review. Augustine Amalraj. Sreeraj Gopi. PMCID: PMC5198828.

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